Be a Better Blogger: Set Up Text Expander

Be A Better Blogger is a periodic blog feature in which I share ideas on how to make blogging easier and/or more fun. You can check out my past features like "Manage Your Goodreads Notifications So They Don't Drive You Crazy."

Bloggers log a LOT of keyboard time. Are your hands tired of typing? Here's an easy way to say more with fewer keystrokes. I'd heard about text expander, but it seemed like too much work to set up. And I thought I had to pay for it. And blah-blah-blah.  Okay, I was wrong. It's easy.

With text expander, I tell my computer that certain keystrokes should be changed into a phrase. Then that phrase types itself like magic. So when I comment on someone's blog or post a review on Goodreads and then end it with my command phrase and hit return, text expander automatically converts that phrase into a live link to my blog. Excellent!

I use a Mac, so here's how I set it up on Mac OS Lion* If you use a PC, scroll down for PC instructions.

First, click on the apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
Select System Preferences.
Select Language and Text on the top row.
Select Text.  A box will pop up with a bunch of secret code. Like, did you ever wonder why your computer changes a "c" with brackets around it into a copyright symbol? Because it's set up that way right here. Scroll down to the bottom of the chart. Under "replace" enter the keystrokes that will be your short command phrase. Under "with" enter the long phrase you want it to be changed into.

Let's say you participate in Top Ten Tuesday every week and want to set up a standard phrase to enter after you comment on someone else's post, like "Here's my Top Ten Tuesday Post. Come Take a Look!"

Tip #1: make sure the command phrase is something you can remember, but also something that you don't normally type. So for my example above, maybe you'd use ,TTT as your command phrase. So you'd type that in the "replace" field

Tip #2: The replacement phrase can also include HTML code. How cool is that? If want to end every comment you leave on another blog with a link to your blog, you can do that with a few keystrokes instead of cutting and pasting.

To add a link, in the "with" field you'd type this, replacing my blog address (in red) with yours and my phrase with whatever you prefer.

Be sure to hit return after typing the command. Then, one last step so that this nifty trick will actually work: turn on text expansion on Safari.

How do you do that? Easy:

Open Safari.
Right click (or control click) anywhere on an open Safari window you can type text. Like a search box or a comment box.
Choose Substitutions/Show Substitutions.
Enable Text Replacement.

PC Instructions: Thanks to Lifehacker for these instructions :)

Download and install a text expander like PhraseExpress. Start it up to see your current list of snippets—it'll usually come with a few to start you off, but should probably delete them and set up your own.

Click the "new" button and type the text you want to end up with in the big content box. Give the snippet a label (like "Top Ten Tuesday") and an abbreviation (the short command text you'll type to insert your snippet, like ,TTT.)  If you don't know the HTML code to link to your blog, look above at the red and black text between the < and the >. Save your snippet. Open up a text editor and try your command snippet out. If it works, you've done it correctly.

You're set.

Okay, just please don't use your new powers for evil. No spamming us all with the same generic comment repeated on every single blog. Because we notice stuff like that.

If you already use Text Expander, let us know in comments what you use it for!

*Not using OS Lion? I feel your pain. For the longest time, I was running on OS Woolly Mammoth. Not sure if other Apple OS will support this, but you can try :)

I'm on vacation and probably won't be able to respond to comments, but I look forward to visiting your blog as soon as I get back on Monday! I won't be posting tomorrow. To those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you have a happy one!


  1. Hmmm...I'm on Snow Lion and I tend to use Firefox so I wonder if this would work for me. Guess I'll have to experiment and see! Thanks for the idea to try.

  2. Jen this is so fantastic, this is damn AWESOME! It's the perfect example because for my memes I always comment a personal comment and then I always add my link to my meme post and something along the lines of a greeting eg. Have a great weekend and I spend so much time copy and pasting, this is great and I just trialled it LOL

    Awesome, awesome, awesome tip!

    1. So happy you tried it. I swear I don't know what I did before. And I do exactly what you suggest: I type a personal comment first then use the Text Expander to add my phrase and link.

  3. very interesting, never heard of that before. Going to have to check it out myself hehe I don't even think about how much I type daily until it's pointed out.

  4. Cool tip - thanks for sharing! :)

  5. I had never even heard of this before. Sounds pretty cool. I don't think I really use any common phrases on a normal basis enough to actually set this up though. If I find that I do, I will have to try this out. Thanks for sharing hon!

  6. I've never heard of this, but I might actually try this. What a great tip!

  7. You must be spying on me. My hand is in so much pain this week from typing. I'm going to try this. Thanks Jen - hoping you're having a fun vaca!

  8. Nice tip! And yes, more people should do this. In the beginning, I used to type it all out all the time!

  9. Huh! I'm definitely going to look into this. Thanks for the tip:)

  10. Thanks for the helpful tip! I'll definitely be looking into it!
    Hope you're having a wonderful vacation! :)

  11. Thanks Jen! Great tip :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  12. Hi, Jen! Thanks for the great tip. I'm gonna look into that! I'm a new follower, so I'm going to have to look at your older tips to see what I've missed.


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